Exchanging Innovations Canadian-style

Will Pate has a great write up about the 2 opportunities for startups at CIX. The combination of CIX and StartupCampToronto2 at the end of April continues to buid on successes in Toronto and Montreal of Founders & Funders, DemoCamp and Rick Segal’s VC Roundtable events. Co-ordinating events like CIX and StartupCampToronto offers a balance of attraction and attention to the different constituencies.

CIX is a forum for the money. They are looking for validated dealflow. They want qualified leads and entrepreneurs. Sure $495 may seem like a lot of money to students, to people not committed to running a growth business, and to people who just want to be associated with the scene. But it helps ensure that in collaboration with grassroots efforts like StartupCampToronto that entrepreneurs are aware, informed, educated and prepared to participate with the suits.

CIX - Canadian Innovation Exchange

Will summaries the opportunity nicely:

To my colleagues from coast to coast in Canuck startups, I have a special invitation for you: submit your company to present at the Canada's Hottest Companies showcase before a panel of leading investors at the Canadian Innovation Exchange conference. They want to meet Canadian innovators in new media, web services, mobile, software and hardware.

On April 29 & 30th in Toronto leading investors, public & private executives and service providers are gathering to meet our country's most innovative entrepreneurs at CIX. The conference will feature keynotes, educational sessions, facilitated & informal networking, and the startup showcase. I'll be there to facilitate a workshop about using the web to its full potential.

There is no cost to submit and your company will be reviewed by a selection committee of over 20 leading investors. Their top rated companies will get 10 minutes to present on stage, and a guaranteed minimum of 3 meetings. It's a no-lose situation, and if you have a business plan it should be easy to copy and paste.

There is also going to be a StartupCamp Toronto 2 at CIX, apply there too to double your chances of presenting your startup to a room full of people that can help

I don’t disagree with Ali’s comments. I’m curious at the different pricing models between an events management company (Achilles Media) and a media company (TechCrunch). Tell me what you think. Because there are only 2 voices and we need more people with strong opinions.

20 thoughts on “Exchanging Innovations Canadian-style”

  1. <p>I am not sure I agree with your logic about $495 not being a lot. I've never seen a forum before where entrepreneurs are asked to apply, and then '495 will be charged to you.'</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Imagine if investors charged you to have meetings with them.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>And $495 is a lot, no matter what our revenues or dedication to growth is-you know what it's like in a startup.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>There are so many better ways to do this. Making entrepreneurs pay doesn't automatically make us 'prepared to participate with the suits.'</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I dunno, David, you're so famous for calling people on BS-you don't see anything wrong with the CIX model?</p>

  2. I am not sure I agree with your logic about $495 not being a lot. I've never seen a forum before where entrepreneurs are asked to apply, and then '495 will be charged to you.'

    Imagine if investors charged you to have meetings with them.

    And $495 is a lot, no matter what our revenues or dedication to growth is-you know what it's like in a startup.

    There are so many better ways to do this. Making entrepreneurs pay doesn't automatically make us 'prepared to participate with the suits.'

    I dunno, David, you're so famous for calling people on BS-you don't see anything wrong with the CIX model?

  3. <p>Ali,</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I never suggested there weren't issues. But if you don't think there is value the opportunity for $495 then my suggestion is that you stay home. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Let's start with the basic premise of the revenue model of event facilities. They often make their money on A/V and food surcharges. So you get the space for free but you're required to pay a per attendee price for food. Typically prices are all per attendee: $15/breakfast; $12/break; $20-25/lunch; $35-50/dinner (maybe more). If you assume there are 2 breaks + 2 meals * 2 days, you're at ~$100/person just for breaks. You then realize that there are AV costs and WiFi is apparently one of the more expensive line items, with venues charging $3,000-$10,000 for WiFi (some venues charge a per attendee of $25/connection). </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>While these costs don't total the $500, it starts to set the tone. There are costs f running world class conferences. Just ask the <a href="http://meshconference.com/&quot; target="_blank">Mesh Conference</a> guys. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>It should also set the tone about the quality of the startups. You're payng for access to VCs. And you can agree of disagree with this model, it works for the VC folks. There are other events and happenings that get you access. But I don't think that we should assume that all business models need to change. Fuck he record companies are loosing market share but they're still billion dollar businesses.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>So the fucking absurdity that everything needs to be free. Information wants to be both free and expensive. For an interesting summary read <a href="http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff_free&quot; target="_blank">Chris Anderson</a>. We all hope that you build a successful business. We shouldn't ridicule VCs for wanting a little bit of a filter. It costs nothing to submit your company. I'm assuming that if accepted that it will cost you nothing. So the fees are for the lookie loos. Where I get upset is with infomediaries that charge for their network. The CIX folks are bringing content. They are forging new connections. And they don't want the lame duck, me too, copycat, not technology, no revenue, no market, no audience Web 2.0 bullshit that we accept in Toronto (Southern Ontario) as 'startups'. Two assholes in their garage does not make a startup. You actually need to have a product that solves a problem that people assign a value to, or a content play that attracts the attention of a lot of people.</p>

  4. <p>2 assholes in the garage don't make a start-up.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>That one made me smile</p>

  5. <p>Ali, </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I agree with David. $495 may seem like a lot but it depends on your context. Compare that to DEMO. $495 doesn't even cover the costs a venue will charge you to use their projector for a meeting, and oh you wanted a screen with that instead of attempting to project on our beige, 'hides the wear and tear' wallpaper, well that'll be another $175/day + setup fees.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Also I've done financing forums in the past where not only did they charge the company to present but they also charge admission for each additional person presenting. Oh and they charged the VCs, lawyers and accountants too. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Rather then arguing the same points as David, what if I suggest you flip the equation around. Let's say you're a startup seeking investment. You're going to hit the usual suspects in town. Town being Toronto which means a commute + parking + food/coffee, not to mention your valuable time. It doesn't take much to break even on the $495.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>In any case, bottom line everyone is free to vote with their feet and their wallets. Don't like it, don't go.</p>

  6. <p>I noticed that everyone on this discussion above me is a seasoned Canadian entrepreneur-you all have way more experience than I. I expect it also makes you all more realistically cynical than myself.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I consider everyone above a personal mentor and role model-so I hope I don't come off like I am being a naive jerk. I honestly find this all interesting.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I do understand the concept of the money covering the cost of the venue-that's reasonable, although I've been to two years of similar events where the people with the money have been always been expected to pay. That's the norm I've come to assume. I am not arguing it's fair.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I do feel that part of your argument, though, isn't just about covering the costs, it's about filtering out those who can't pay. Two guys in a garage ARE a startup, to me, and you've got to realize that charging a filter fee does mean that a certain kind of startup will never enter the door. I know that the two guys in a garage startups are usually garbage-I've seen so much of this-but at the same time, I include myself in this group. We're pre-financed at my company, and I literally live in my office and get paid, per month, about the cost of admission into this event. I think there are better ways to filter people than on cash as there is no direct logical correlation with ability to pay and quality of startup.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>You can argue that the fee has such value that I shouldn't mind borrowing the money from somewhere. But this is a first time event is running so how can I be sure.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Look, in the end, startups that have been around or serial entrepreneurs that have already made money will easily be able to attend. I just want to point out that there are some that also won't be able to, and it seems like your unwritten response is: 'that's cool, we don't want them'.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Oh shoot, I just noticed that StartupNorth blogged about this article with my full name and company. I will stop talking now ;)</p>

  7. <p>We don't blame the <a href="http://demo.com/&quot; target="_blank">Demo</a> or the <a href="http://www.undertheradarblog.com/index.html&quot; target="_blank">Under the Radar</a> or <a href="http://www.techcrunch40.com/&quot; target="_blank">TechCrunch40</a> in their efforts to do very similar events. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I can't help but reiterate: 2 people in a garage does NOT equal a startup! Get over it! There are 3 types of business:</p><br />
    <br />
    &lt;ul&gt;<br />
    &lt;li&gt;* Bad ones&lt;/li&gt;<br />
    &lt;li&gt;* Lifestyle Businesses&lt;/li&gt;<br />
    &lt;li&gt;* Venture Fundable Businesses&lt;/li&gt;<br />
    &lt;/ul&gt;<br />
    <p>There's nothing wrong with running a lifestyle business. But don't expect to get the respect or attention of VCs. These are funded by people like <a href="http://bdc.ca/&quot; target="_blank">BDC</a> and <a href="http://sba.gov/&quot; target="_blank">SBA</a>. Read about why VCs <a href="http://andrewbfife.blogspot.com/2006/02/raising-capital-why-vcs-need-grand.html&quot; target="_blank">need Grand Slams</a>. It's not about being nice. It's about strategies that return payouts to your limited partners. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p><a href="http://canadianinnovationexchange.com/&quot; target="_blank">CIX</a> is trying to appeal to the venture side guys. There are events like <a href="http://founderslunch.com/&quot; target="_blank">Founders Lunch</a> hosted by <a href="http://married-inc.com/&quot; target="_blank">John & Gosia Green</a> from <a href="http://learnhub.com/&quot; target="_blank">LearnHub</a> where founders can learn from each other. There are lower cost events like <a href="http://foundersandfunders.org/&quot; target="_blank">Founders & Funders</a> that cost attendees $75 for what amounted to a $150 meal. There are events like <a href="http://barcamp.org/StartupCampToronto2&quot; target="_blank">StartupCampToronto</a> hosted by <a href="http://socialwrite.com/&quot; target="_blank">Jevon</a> and <a href="http://jonasbrandon.com/&quot; target="_blank">Jonas</a> of <a href="http://startupnorth.ca/&quot; target="_blank">StartupNorth</a>. It's an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems are diverse. They require a variety of events appealing to a variety of people. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>The great thing about Toronto is that we have an ecosystem. Finally!</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>How can you be sure that this is an event that you should spend your $500 on? I don't know. Look at the people involved. Look at the sessions. Look at the networking opportunities. Define your goals and what you want to get out of the event. You can then at least see if there is a match. Do you need contacts to raise money? Do you need training around early-stage marketing and customer acquisition? Do you want to meet other startups? Do you need to find employees? Some of these are achievable at <a href="http://canadianinnovationexchange.com/&quot; target="_blank">CIX</a>, and others are not. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I do agree with you. In reading the <a href="http://www.canadianinnovationexchange.com/registration/presenting.company.php&quot; target="_blank">presenting company pitch</a> it's $495 + $495 so almost $1,000 to do this roadshow. I'm not sure that this is where I'd put my $1,000. It's something that we've all expressed our displeasure to the folks hosting the conference. But that's a choice I would make. There is a strange belief that the $500+ will increase the quality of dealflow. I don't agree. I think it will bring a bunch of later stage companies out of the woodwork, but it doesn't encourage early-stage companies. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>The other challenge is what kind of company are you? Are you a transactional commerce company? Are you a media company? Are you a application company? And are the right people attending this conference? Am I at the stage where these investor tend to invest. All difficult questions that require insight and self-evaluation.</p>

  8. <p>Maybe the question we should be asking entrepreneurs is:</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>What would you be willing to pay for an event like <a href="http://canadianinnovationexchange.com/&quot; target="_blank">Canadian Innovation Exchange</a> ?</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>Comparable events:</p><br />
    <br />
    &lt;ul&gt;<br />
    &lt;li&gt;<a href="http://techcrunch40.com/&quot; target="_blank">TechCrunch40</a> & 'Forty of the hottest new startups from around the world will announce and demo their products over a two day period at TechCrunch40. And they don't pay a cent to do this.'&lt;/li&gt;<br />
    &lt;li&gt;<a href="http://undertheradarblog.com/&quot; target="_blank">Under the Radar</a> Future of Web Apps & $685</p><br />
    &lt;li&gt;<a href="http://www.acteva.com/booking.cfm?bevaid=149260&quot; target="_blank">DealMaker Forum</a> & $195/day (so $390 for 2 days)&lt;/li&gt;<br />
    &lt;li&gt;<a href="http://demo.com/&quot; target="_blank">DEMO</a> & $17,000 &lt;/li&gt;<br />
    &lt;/ul&gt;<br />
    <p>Obviously for <a href="http://techcrunch.com/&quot; target="_blank">TechCrunch</a> this is a media event. So the combination of sponsorship plus media coverage should be enough to cover costs or to justify it as a budget line item. It's probably the closest to <a href="http://canadianinnovationexchange.com/&quot; target="_blank">Canadian Innovation Exchange</a> which is hosted by <a href="http://achillesmedia.com/&quot; target="_blank">Achilles Media</a> who is in the business of running conferences, i.e., they are an event management company. They obviously need to cover their employee and marketing costs. Coupled with CIX is co-chaired by Robert Montgomery and <a href="http://seanwise.com/&quot; target="_blank">Sean Wise</a>. Sean has been involved with the <a href="http://www.banffventureforum.com/&quot; target="_blank">Banff Venture Forum</a> and <a href="http://www.newventuresbc.com/&quot; target="_blank">NewVenturesBC</a>. These guys are very successful traditional money guys looking to help engage the Toronto community. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>What is CIX worth to you? Would you go if it was free? Would you pay $25? $50? $100? $200? $250? $400? How do you determine the value and the pricing?</p><br />
    <br />
    <p><a href="http://www.polldaddy.com/s/D6FCB7A1FF6716AE/&quot; target="_blank">Answer the survey</a> and provide details about what's valuable to you?</p>

  9. <p>I'd agree with David and others; the fee is in fact a very easy-to-apply and I think effective filter that separates out the 'team, technology, biz plan, financing goals in place, actively targeting VC' startups from everyone else.</p><br />
    <br />
    <p>The fact that the cost of entry to startups is so low these days (a fantastically great thing!) doesn't change the fact that most of these startups do not need VC money & and in fact it would be a disaster for them if by some means they did get it (which they wouldn't, they'd just waste their own and the VC's time). VC is there for a particular purpose. </p><br />
    <br />
    <p>I'm perfectly happy that I'm not doing a VC-appropriate ('real') startup. Thank goodness doing a startup can be so much easier these days that there are other options. Ok, not enough of them, but that's another issue.</p>

  10. Ali,

    I never suggested there weren't issues. But if you don't think there is value the opportunity for $495 then my suggestion is that you stay home.

    Let's start with the basic premise of the revenue model of event facilities. They often make their money on A/V and food surcharges. So you get the space for free but you're required to pay a per attendee price for food. Typically prices are all per attendee: $15/breakfast; $12/break; $20-25/lunch; $35-50/dinner (maybe more). If you assume there are 2 breaks + 2 meals * 2 days, you're at ~$100/person just for breaks. You then realize that there are AV costs and WiFi is apparently one of the more expensive line items, with venues charging $3,000-$10,000 for WiFi (some venues charge a per attendee of $25/connection).

    While these costs don't total the $500, it starts to set the tone. There are costs f running world class conferences. Just ask the Mesh Conference guys.

    It should also set the tone about the quality of the startups. You're payng for access to VCs. And you can agree of disagree with this model, it works for the VC folks. There are other events and happenings that get you access. But I don't think that we should assume that all business models need to change. Fuck he record companies are loosing market share but they're still billion dollar businesses.

    So the fucking absurdity that everything needs to be free. Information wants to be both free and expensive. For an interesting summary read Chris Anderson. We all hope that you build a successful business. We shouldn't ridicule VCs for wanting a little bit of a filter. It costs nothing to submit your company. I'm assuming that if accepted that it will cost you nothing. So the fees are for the lookie loos. Where I get upset is with infomediaries that charge for their network. The CIX folks are bringing content. They are forging new connections. And they don't want the lame duck, me too, copycat, not technology, no revenue, no market, no audience Web 2.0 bullshit that we accept in Toronto (Southern Ontario) as 'startups'. Two assholes in their garage does not make a startup. You actually need to have a product that solves a problem that people assign a value to, or a content play that attracts the attention of a lot of people.

  11. Ali,

    I agree with David. $495 may seem like a lot but it depends on your context. Compare that to DEMO. $495 doesn't even cover the costs a venue will charge you to use their projector for a meeting, and oh you wanted a screen with that instead of attempting to project on our beige, 'hides the wear and tear' wallpaper, well that'll be another $175/day + setup fees.

    Also I've done financing forums in the past where not only did they charge the company to present but they also charge admission for each additional person presenting. Oh and they charged the VCs, lawyers and accountants too.

    Rather then arguing the same points as David, what if I suggest you flip the equation around. Let's say you're a startup seeking investment. You're going to hit the usual suspects in town. Town being Toronto which means a commute + parking + food/coffee, not to mention your valuable time. It doesn't take much to break even on the $495.

    In any case, bottom line everyone is free to vote with their feet and their wallets. Don't like it, don't go.

  12. I noticed that everyone on this discussion above me is a seasoned Canadian entrepreneur-you all have way more experience than I. I expect it also makes you all more realistically cynical than myself.

    I consider everyone above a personal mentor and role model-so I hope I don't come off like I am being a naive jerk. I honestly find this all interesting.

    I do understand the concept of the money covering the cost of the venue-that's reasonable, although I've been to two years of similar events where the people with the money have been always been expected to pay. That's the norm I've come to assume. I am not arguing it's fair.

    I do feel that part of your argument, though, isn't just about covering the costs, it's about filtering out those who can't pay. Two guys in a garage ARE a startup, to me, and you've got to realize that charging a filter fee does mean that a certain kind of startup will never enter the door. I know that the two guys in a garage startups are usually garbage-I've seen so much of this-but at the same time, I include myself in this group. We're pre-financed at my company, and I literally live in my office and get paid, per month, about the cost of admission into this event. I think there are better ways to filter people than on cash as there is no direct logical correlation with ability to pay and quality of startup.

    You can argue that the fee has such value that I shouldn't mind borrowing the money from somewhere. But this is a first time event is running so how can I be sure.

    Look, in the end, startups that have been around or serial entrepreneurs that have already made money will easily be able to attend. I just want to point out that there are some that also won't be able to, and it seems like your unwritten response is: 'that's cool, we don't want them'.

    Oh shoot, I just noticed that StartupNorth blogged about this article with my full name and company. I will stop talking now 😉

  13. We don't blame the Demo or the Under the Radar or TechCrunch40 in their efforts to do very similar events.

    I can't help but reiterate: 2 people in a garage does NOT equal a startup! Get over it! There are 3 types of business:

    • * Bad ones
    • * Lifestyle Businesses
    • * Venture Fundable Businesses

    There's nothing wrong with running a lifestyle business. But don't expect to get the respect or attention of VCs. These are funded by people like BDC and SBA. Read about why VCs need Grand Slams. It's not about being nice. It's about strategies that return payouts to your limited partners.

    CIX is trying to appeal to the venture side guys. There are events like Founders Lunch hosted by John & Gosia Green from LearnHub where founders can learn from each other. There are lower cost events like Founders & Funders that cost attendees $75 for what amounted to a $150 meal. There are events like StartupCampToronto hosted by Jevon and Jonas of StartupNorth. It's an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems are diverse. They require a variety of events appealing to a variety of people.

    The great thing about Toronto is that we have an ecosystem. Finally!

    How can you be sure that this is an event that you should spend your $500 on? I don't know. Look at the people involved. Look at the sessions. Look at the networking opportunities. Define your goals and what you want to get out of the event. You can then at least see if there is a match. Do you need contacts to raise money? Do you need training around early-stage marketing and customer acquisition? Do you want to meet other startups? Do you need to find employees? Some of these are achievable at CIX, and others are not.

    I do agree with you. In reading the presenting company pitch it's $495 + $495 so almost $1,000 to do this roadshow. I'm not sure that this is where I'd put my $1,000. It's something that we've all expressed our displeasure to the folks hosting the conference. But that's a choice I would make. There is a strange belief that the $500+ will increase the quality of dealflow. I don't agree. I think it will bring a bunch of later stage companies out of the woodwork, but it doesn't encourage early-stage companies.

    The other challenge is what kind of company are you? Are you a transactional commerce company? Are you a media company? Are you a application company? And are the right people attending this conference? Am I at the stage where these investor tend to invest. All difficult questions that require insight and self-evaluation.

  14. Maybe the question we should be asking entrepreneurs is:

    What would you be willing to pay for an event like Canadian Innovation Exchange ?

    Comparable events:

    • TechCrunch40 & 'Forty of the hottest new startups from around the world will announce and demo their products over a two day period at TechCrunch40. And they don't pay a cent to do this.'
    • Under the Radar Future of Web Apps & $685
    • DealMaker Forum & $195/day (so $390 for 2 days)
    • DEMO & $17,000

    Obviously for TechCrunch this is a media event. So the combination of sponsorship plus media coverage should be enough to cover costs or to justify it as a budget line item. It's probably the closest to Canadian Innovation Exchange which is hosted by Achilles Media who is in the business of running conferences, i.e., they are an event management company. They obviously need to cover their employee and marketing costs. Coupled with CIX is co-chaired by Robert Montgomery and Sean Wise. Sean has been involved with the Banff Venture Forum and NewVenturesBC. These guys are very successful traditional money guys looking to help engage the Toronto community.

    What is CIX worth to you? Would you go if it was free? Would you pay $25? $50? $100? $200? $250? $400? How do you determine the value and the pricing?

    Answer the survey and provide details about what’s valuable to you?

  15. I'd agree with David and others; the fee is in fact a very easy-to-apply and I think effective filter that separates out the 'team, technology, biz plan, financing goals in place, actively targeting VC' startups from everyone else.

    The fact that the cost of entry to startups is so low these days (a fantastically great thing!) doesn't change the fact that most of these startups do not need VC money & and in fact it would be a disaster for them if by some means they did get it (which they wouldn't, they'd just waste their own and the VC's time). VC is there for a particular purpose.

    I'm perfectly happy that I'm not doing a VC-appropriate ('real') startup. Thank goodness doing a startup can be so much easier these days that there are other options. Ok, not enough of them, but that's another issue.

Comments are closed.